Coming Out Safely

Coming Out Safely  

With recent releases of LGBTQ+ themed movies and other social media, there seems to be a renewed interest around issues of coming out.  In addition to my “How to Come Out Safely” video series, I am writing a synopsis of my thoughts on the subject.

First: Coming out is a personal decision that can only be made by you. Do NOT come come out until you personally feel ready and have the support to do so.

Stages of Coming Out

Stage 1: You may have periods of uncertainty about your sexuality or gender identity. That is totally OK. Each person must take their time to discover who they are. You can take as much time as you need. The important thing is to not feel pressured to “decide” or to let others decide for you. Once you feel pretty certain about who you are, you can move on to stage 2.

Stage 2: Acknowledging to yourself who you are. At this stage two things may occur almost simultaneously. First thing: A sense of relief to acknowledge to yourself how you identify. Second thing: OMG. Now what? Am I going to be accepted? How do I come out? How will my parents react? Etc. This is a stage you should not hang out in by yourself. It’s time to move on to the next stage to get support.

Stage 3: Reach out to others who you are pretty sure will be accepting. This is an important time to build a supportive team of people who will love and support you for who you are. This may include your best friends, your school counselor, your school’s GSA or QSA club, etc. There are also online resources where you can find additional support. Once you have a great support team in place, you may choose to proceed to stage 4.

Stage 4: Coming out to others outside your supportive inner circle. This may be the time you begin to come out to people who may not be as supportive. Please remember you do NOT have to come out to anyone you don’t want to. Only come out to people if you feel it will make you feel better doing so. The most important thing above all others is to be safe. HAVE A SAFETY PLAN in case coming out to someone doesn’t go well. That may mean have a safe place to go to if the person you come out to is not accepting.

Please remember that are many people across the world who support you in your journey. The trevor project has a 24/7 hotline 1-866-488-7386 that is there to support you along the way.

Time To THRIVE Conference

Presenting at the Time To THRIVE Conference was an amazing experience!

I loved attending the Time To THRIVE Conference in Orlando over President’s Day Weekend. The annual national conference promotes safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ+ youth. It is always such an honor to meet people from across the country that share the common goal of helping LGBTQ+ youth in any way they can.

I had the privilege of presenting two workshops at the conference this year with Sameer Jha. Our first workshop was entitled, “The Intersection of Race, Gender, Sexuality, and Mental Health: Creating an LGBTQ+ Safe Space Through an Experiential Learning Perspective.” Over 75 participants attended this workshop making it one of the best attended workshops of the entire conference.

The second workshop was entitled, “How To Help an LGBTQ Colleague Who Is Afraid to Come Out”. At both workshops, Sameer and I facilitated robust interactive discussions with the attendees.

Betty DeGeneres Receives Award

Betty DeGeneres received the Conference’s “Upstander Award” for her promotion of safety, inclusion,  & well-being for LGBTQ+ youth. She has written two books: “Love, Ellen – A Mother/Daughter Journey” and “Just a Mom”. It was a tremendous joy for me to exchange with Betty signed copies of our books. She is an inspiration to me and countless others across the globe. I first met Betty in 2012 in San Diego at the Center for Excellence in School Counseling and Leadership Conference. The world is better with people like Betty in it.

LGBTQ+ Youth Summit

On the last day of the conference LGBTQ+ youth from the Orlando area were invited to attend the youth summit. The summit supplied lunch for the youth followed by a panel presentation about being LGBTQ+ in corporate America. Before the panel started, I was given the opportunity to introduce myself, my book and my coloring book.

I was able to give away free copies of my coloring book to all attendees of both workshops as well as give away free copies of my book and coloring book at the youth summit. This act of kindness was a way of me paying it forward with the money I received for being an audience member in The Ellen DeGenerous Show’s birthday celebration.

I look forward to attending next year’s conference in Anaheim.

The Ellen DeGeneres Show

Being Invited as an Audience Member for Ellen’s 60th Birthday Show! 

It was an honor and a privilege to be invited by the Ellen DeGeneres Show to be an audience member for her special 60th Birthday Celebration!

I was among 300 amazing advocates for kindness who were hand picked from across North America for the birthday show’s audience. Everyone in the audience was from her “Million Acts of Kindness” campaign.

The episodes aired February 1-2, 2018.

The energy from the audience before and during the taping was lively, palpable, and extremely exciting.

At the end of every episode, Ellen motivates people to “be kind to one another”.  But her 60th Birthday episode was unique.

As part of Ellen’s Million Acts of Kindness campaign, Cheerios donated $1 million to be evenly distributed among the audience. In case you missed it, you can watch Ellen’s three minute video announcing the gift by clicking here.

Ellen has inspired me in so many ways. And I’m grateful to be able to pay it forward. I’m using my portion of the gift to continue giving away free copies of my books to LGBT youth.

I feel so honored to be following my life’s passion of helping LGBTQ youth.